Where to start! We arrrived in Siena and found our accommodation – Borgo Grondaie – just on the outskirts near the train station, and just down the road from the biggest COOP (supermarket) we’d ever seen. After stocking up on supplies, we rested up just grateful we had made it to our destination in one piece.
DAY TRIP TO FLORENCE.
After crossing the railway tracks and taking many many escalators to the top of the hill we found the Rapida bus stop to Florence. For under 8 euros each way, the bus was a good option as the traffic was horrendous the closer we got to the city. As for parking, it’s almost non existent everywhere in Italy and Florence was no exception. Off the bus, and off and running. First stop was the Basilica Santa Maria del Fiore, with the famous duomo that dominates the City. Very impressive on the outside, but compared the the churches we’d already seen, quite plain inside. It was then off to the Accademia Gallery to see its most famous occupant – Michaelangelos sculpture of “David”. Well worth the wait (there’s always a queue), the detail is amazing. Of course there is lots of other cool stuff to see too.
With only a day to see the sights of Florence there was no rest for the wicked, so after a quick bite to eat at one of the many cafes on the Piazza della Signoria, and a few minutes to admire the many statues standing in plain view ( including the “fake Dave”) – of particular note is the statue of Perseo holding the head of Medusa by Cellini (1554), we lined up for entrance to the Uffizi Gallery. So many priceless works of art, beautiful paintings, sculptures, works by all the old masters, it really was too much to take in all at once. Cultural overload.
A quick stroll to the Ponte Vecchio or Old Bridge (1345) spanning the River Arno lined with jewellery shops – all very crowded – then back to the bus. A big day out.
If I had to choose between Siena and Florence, Siena would win every time. It was smaller, less crowded, and has a beautiful medievial old town. Narrow winding streets many of which eventually lead to the Piazza del Campo, a very large circular space lined with cafes and restaurants and dominated by the red Palazzo Publico and its tower. The piazza is also the venue for the Palio do Siena – a horse race run two times every summer, an event steeped in tradition, and features in the James Bond movie Quantum of Solace.
We lashed out and ate at L’Osteria. Food was great. We had an entree of local meats, followed by traditional Osso bucco and pasta dishes, topped off with fine wines, a good time was had by all.
Siena also has a lovely cathedral. The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. It has a dazzling black and white exterior, however the cathedral was not open when we were there but it was well worth a look on the outside and it will be something to see next time we are there.